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Open Right

Jake Wilson: Film as Text: All About Eve

Session Info:

Writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz was one of the most sophisticated wits in Hollywood, and the Oscar-winning 1950 comedy-drama All About Eve shows him at his peak.  This is not just a film about what happens in the theatre, but one where the characters are constantly playing roles onstage and off, calling into question what constitutes “natural” behaviour for men and women.  Incorporating close analysis of clips, this presentation unpacks the film’s complex narrative strategies, placing it in the context of Mankiewicz’s career and giving special attention to the two stars who dominate proceedings―Bette Davis as neurotic Broadway actress Margo Channing and George Sanders as waspish theatre critic Addison DeWitt.  The presentation can be adjusted depending on audience needs.

Topics

•  Gender and social roles in All About Eve

• What makes Mankiewicz’s style distinctive?

• The use of established star images

• The story’s multiple narrators and how they shape our understanding

• All About Eve  as self-conscious art film, reflecting on the relationship between fiction and life

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